If frying is one of my favorite methods for preparing chicken, roasting is the other. It is easy enough for everyday meals if you factor in the roasting time, but it still always feels a little festive. A roasted chicken is perfect in any weather, hot or cold. On warm days, I put one in the oven early in the day and then serve it at room temperature with summery sides like tomato, beet, or potato salads, and, needless to say, corn. If you have lunch guests, Salade Monique and some good bread are all you need to add. In any case, chicken ready for sandwiches or salad is never in the “tyranny of the leftovers” category— and don’t forget to stockpile the carcass for homemade stock (see page 38). This is my basic method, and it produces a juicy bird with crisp skin. Work out your own combination of herbs or increase the amount of chicken stock or substitute water if you prefer to omit the wine. I’ve found the skin stays crisper if I don’t baste the chicken as it roasts, so I don’t suggest it here. Roasted or mashed potatoes are an essential side.
serves 4 to 6
The day before or at least 8 hours ahead of when you want to roast the chicken, season it inside and out with the salt and pepper. Cover the bird loosely with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Truss the chicken, tying its legs together with kitchen twine. Rub the butter all over the chicken. Put the carrots, celery, onion, and thyme and rosemary sprigs into a roasting pan with a rack. Place the chicken on the rack and set it into the pan; roast the chicken for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and roast for another 35 to 40 minutes, or until skin is nicely browned.
To check for doneness, place a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, being careful not to pierce through to the cavity or strike a bone; the chicken is done at 165 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, tilt the chicken forward on the rack so that juices run from the cavity; the chicken is done if the juices that run out are clear, with no trace of pink. Return the chicken to the oven if necessary for 5 to 10 minutes. (Keep in mind that the chicken will continue to cook a bit after it is removed from the oven.)
Transfer the chicken to a platter and let it rest in a warm spot for 15 minutes. While the chicken is resting, remove the rack from the pan and pour off the excess fat but not the vegetables and herbs. Place the pan over medium- high heat and pour in the chicken stock and wine, as well as any juices that have accumulated around the chicken. Cook the pan juices while stirring and scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until they are slightly thickened. Strain the sauce into a bowl, pressing down to exude all the juices and flavors. Whisk the mustard into the juices to incorporate it well, then stir in the chopped thyme, rosemary, tarragon, and the chives. Carve the chicken and serve it with the sauce.
One 4- to 5- pound roasting chicken, rinsed and patted dry
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, or olive oil
½ cup sliced carrots
½ cup sliced celery
½ cup sliced onion
4 sprigs thyme, plus 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
2 sprigs rosemary, plus
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
2 cups chicken stock, homemade or good- quality store bought
1 cup white wine
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
2 tablespoons roughly cut chives
Roasted Chicken with Basil and Caramelized Shallots
You might also enjoy roasting a chicken this way. The method is the same as for Roasted Chicken with Herbs but the accompanying flavors vary. Caramelized shallots are wonderful with chicken.
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter or olive oil, or a combination
2 pounds shallots (about 16 large shallots), cut in half lengthwise
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Leaves from 1 bunch fresh basil, cut in chiffonade
While the chicken is roasting, melt the butter in a 12- inch ovenproof sauté pan. Add the shallots and sugar, and toss to coat. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the shallots start to brown. Take care that they do not burn, and adjust the heat accordingly. Add the vinegar, salt, and pepper and toss well. Place the sauté pan in the oven and roast the shallots for 15 to depending on their size, until they are tender. Complete the Roasted Chicken recipe but do not use the herb in the sauce. Serve the carved chicken with the shallots and the basil.
Excerpted from Sylvia’s Table: Fresh, Seasonal Recipes from Our Farm to Your Table by Liz Neumark. Copyright © 2013 by Liz Neumark. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.